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Peruvian Paso Breed Description

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Breed Organization

The North American Peruvian Horse Association NAPHA

Native Country

Other Names

Adult Height
14.1 to 15.2h

Adult Weight

General Description

Physically, the Paso is a horse of medium size, usually standing between 14.1 and 15.2 hands tall, with a powerful build. He may be chestnut, black, brown, bay, buckskin, palomino, gray, roan or dun; with the solid colors, grays and dark skin considered most desirable. The mane is abundant with fine, lustrous hair that may be curly or straight. Horses must be shown unshod.

The Peruvian Paso horse should have an appearance of energy, grace and refinement. Horses should have a well-developed muscular appearance without exaggerations. The head is of medium size with a straight or slightly concave profile; a small muzzle; oblong nostrils which extend easily; dark skin; dark expressive eyes set well apart; moderately marked jowls and medium length ears with fine tips curved slightly inward. The neck is of medium length with a graceful arch to the crest. It is slightly heavier in proportion to the body than with most light saddle breeds. The back is medium to short in length, strong and rounded. Loins broad and well muscled over kidney area. Croup long and wide, fairly muscular with moderate slope and nicely rounded. Tail is set low and viewed from the rear is carried straight, quietly and held close to the buttocks. Chest is wide with abundant muscling. Rib cage well sprung and deep. The barrel is deep and the underline is nearly level from the last rib to the brisket. Flanks are moderately short, full and deep. Quarters should be strong, of medium roundness and width. Shoulders long, very well inclined and well muscled, especially at the withers. Bones of the lower limbs should be well aligned and well articulated so that the long bones line up with each other correctly above and below the joints with the skin tight against the bone and strong, prominent tendons.

Pasterns of medium length and springy but not showing weakness. Cannon bones are short. Slightly more angle to the hock than other light saddle breeds.

Today, the Peruvian Paso transmits its smooth gait to all purebred foals. No artificial devices or special training aids are necessary to enable the horse to perform its specialty - a natural four-beat footfall of medium speed that provides a ride of incomparable smoothness and harmony of movement. In addition to an easy gait, the Peruvian Paso's creators desired their new breed to retain brilliant action typified by lift as the knee and fetlock flex, combined with "termino," a movement of the front legs similar to the loose outward rolling of a swimmer's arms in the crawl.
(a) Paso llano: Equally spaced, four beat gait. Timing and footfall: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4; LH - LF - RH - RF
(b) Sobreandando: Usually faster, slightly more lateral than the Paso llano. Timing and footfall: 1,2 - 3,4; LH, LF - RH,RF.


Although a newcomer to North America, the Peruvian Paso had its origins over four centuries ago in South America, where the horses brought to Peru by the conquistadors and subsequent Spanish settlers were bred selectively to produce the genetic miracle that became the "National Horse of Peru." The judicious fusion of several Old World breeds provided the foundation for the Peruvian horse. The Spanish Jennet gave its even temperament and smooth ambling gait, the African Barb contributed great energy, strength and stamina while the Andalusian imparted its excellent conformation, action, proud carriage and beauty to the new breed. Once established, the Peruvian Paso was maintained in its native country as a closed population, isolated by geography and the dedication of its creators from the influence of additional outside blood.

Many people assume a close relationship between the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Fino. Although the two breeds share some common ancestors in the Old World breeds that are their forebears, the horses that gave rise to each came to the New World with different groups of settlers and were generated in entirely separate environments for totally different purposes.

The Paso Fino was developed in and around the Caribbean, Central and South America, while the Peruvian horse was born entirely within the borders of the country for which it was named. The Peruvian is somewhat larger, deeper in the body and wider. Both have high head carriage and front leg lift, are smooth to ride and exhibit basically the same four-beat footfall although it is executed differently. The Paso Fino is not bred for the distinctive "termino" and its finest show gait does not require the length of stride so essential in Peru for traveling long distances. In addition, the Peruvian can guarantee transmission of its gait to all purebred foals.


Perhaps the most misunderstood of all traits that distinguishes the Peruvian horse is "brio," a quality of spirit that enables this tractable horse to perform with an arrogance and exuberance that can only be described as thrilling. "Brio" and stamina give the Peruvian its willingness and ability to perform tirelessly for many hours and many miles in the service of its rider. Peruvian Paso horses are noted internationally for their good temperament and comfortable ride.


Because the rider feels no strain or jolt, gaited horses such as the Peruvian Paso are often popular with riders who have back trouble. The Peruvian horse is first a wonderful riding horse – a horse that because of its comfortable four beat lateral gaits (pisos), it is super smooth for its rider for any task. They are wonderful steady trail and pleasure horses, enjoyed by riders of all ages. Owners also enjoy them as show horses in breed and open gaited horse shows, showing their talents at many things from performance to trail classes. They also excel in trail competitions such as NATRC, due to their ability and steadiness on the trail.


Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD) is a connective tissue disorder akin to Ehlers–Danlos syndrome now being researched in all breeds of horse, but was originally noted in the Peruvian Paso. Originally thought to be a condition of overwork and older age, the disease is now recognized as hereditary and has been seen in horses of all ages, including foals. The latest research has led to the renaming of the disease after the possible systemic and hereditary components now being delineated by the University of Georgia. Equine Systemic Proteoglycan Accumulation.

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